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It's taken a long time for which I apologise, but I think I've finally returned all reads and rates. Give me a nudge if I've missed any. Still working through alerts and getting my notes together to start writing again - maybe!

Reviews written

since 21/11/2003


AC Barcelona, Barcelona 21/09/2008

City and Seaside - best of both worlds

AC Barcelona, Barcelona ~~Reasons for choosing this hotel~~ I'd stayed in the Diagonal Mar area last year at a hotel opposite this one which had, in fact, been my first choice and I'd happily booked it, albeit for the wrong weekend!! I realised my mistake but my original choice wasn't available on the correct dates. Having looked at many alternatives including central Barcelona, I kept coming back to the fact that I really liked the area and had heard positive views of the AC Barcelona so decided to book here. ~~Booking~~ I booked through Hotelopia as they were offering the best deal which worked out at £317 for a 3 night weekend stay in September. I don't think this is too bad for a 4 star hotel although, as seems to be typical for Spanish city hotels, this doesn't include breakfast. There was an option available to include breakfast but at around £100 more, we decided go for room only which meant we could either do our own thing or choose to have breakfast in the hotel once we were there. ~~Arrival and departure~~ When we arrived at reception there were a lot of people around but most were at a separate desk registering for a conference which was taking place in one of the many meeting rooms. Everything in Barcelona appears to be a style statement and the lobby was no exception - very modern, atrium style space with lots of large sofas. There were three staff on reception and we were dealt with quickly and efficiently. We were given the option of a sea or city view - a sea view is ...

Holiday Inn Express Folkestone Channel Tunnel 31/08/2008

Tunnel or Ferry - handy for both

Holiday Inn Express Folkestone Channel Tunnel **Reasons for choosing this hotel:** Holiday Inn Express is my cheapie hotel of choice at the moment and this was convenient for our ferry departure from Dover early on a Saturday morning. I know, I know it's right next to the Channel Tunnel but it is only about 15 minutes to the ferry terminal. **Booking:** I booked on the Holiday Inn Express website which was quick and easy with immediate email confirmation of the booking. The cost of the room was £49.00 including complimentary breakfast for a Friday night in early July which I thought was great value. **Arrival:** The hotel is signposted as you come off the motorway but it does feel like you've gone too far down the road and missed the turning - just keep going as this new hotel is at the end of the road, situated right next to the old Channel Tunnel Exhibition Centre which appears to have been abandoned - not sure what they're going to do with this building. The car park is spacious and well-lit and the entrance to the hotel is on the same level so no struggling with pushchairs or wheelchairs. The reception area is very bright and clean, next to the bar and some tables where you can eat bar meals until 11.00 pm. We arrived just after that but the receptionist did say that they could probably rustle us up a sandwich if we required. The included breakfast is served in the same area from 6.30 until 10.00 but I can't comment on this as we decided to have breakfast on the ferry. The hotel smells very ...

Bewley's Hotel, Leeds 14/06/2008

Sweet stay in Sweet Street

Bewley's Hotel, Leeds ~~Reasons for choosing this hotel~~ The business I had to visit is literally across the road, near the M1/M62 junction and, having stayed here before overnight, I thought it was a decent option for a two night business stay. ~~Booking~~ The Bewleys website, is very easy to navigate and when I selected the Leeds hotel out of the 6 hotels available and put in the required dates I was presented with a list of the available rooms. I had to book for myself and a colleague and we both wanted smoking rooms which are thankfully still available at this hotel. I chose twin rooms as there were no standard doubles listed and twins are advertised as having a double and single bed. The room rate was £79.00 per night plus breakfast at £6.95. ~~Arrival~~ We accessed the hotel via the lift (there are also stairs) from the secure underground car park (£6 per day for guests) which has two floors and a good proportion of disabled spaces near the lift. Check in is officially from 2pm but as we were arriving earlier than this I thought we would check in, dump our bags and have some lunch before heading over to the office (we knew we'd missed the sandwich lady at the office we were visiting!). There was only one member of staff on reception who checked us in with the minimum of fuss, despite being interrupted by a very rude guest wanting to jump the queue and she advised us that both rooms were in fact ready and directed us to the lifts. You have to use a room key card to gain ...

Holme Lacy House Hotel, Hereford 15/05/2008

Would I pay for it?

Holme Lacy House Hotel, Hereford Two apologies to start with:- this is a long review and there are no pictures as I forgot my camera again! ~~Reasons for choosing this hotel~~ I'm always entering competitions and I often forget all about them so it was a nice surprise when I received a letter from a marketing company in October 2007 telling me I'd won a three-night half board break at Holme Lacy House near Hereford in a competition on the First Great Western website - yippee! A few days later I received a Warner Leisure Hotels brochure and a voucher saying that I had been awarded a 3 Night Weekend break for two people to be taken by 1st May 2008 - how to book details (telephone) were on the voucher. I didn't know much about Warner apart from the fact that it was adults only and my husband, who had taken a group to one of their Chalet resorts in Suffolk, dubbed it Butlins for adults only! We had a look at the brochure and Holme Lacy House looked beautiful although I was somewhat put-off by the fact that the brochure shows mainly older people enjoying pursuits such as bowls, which is not our thing at all! ~~Booking~~ Having forgotten about it for a few months, we were thinking about going away for a weekend for my birthday in February and remembered we had this break to use. Last minute as always, I called the booking number on the voucher on 12th February to see if there was any availability for 1½ weeks time. Whilst the chap on the end of the phone didn't really understand about the ...

Eyewitness Travel Guide: Delhi, Agra & Jaipur - Kate Poole 02/04/2008

Triangular Guide

Eyewitness Travel Guide: Delhi, Agra & Jaipur - Kate Poole ""Please note - this is a review of the 2003 version of the book and it has been updated and reprinted in 2007."" When it was finally confirmed that I would be spending a few weeks working in India towards the end of 2006, as well as organising injections, anti malarials etc I wanted to get a guide book to plan to get the most out of my weekends. Off I went to my local bookshop and started looking at India guides and I soon realised that there were some that covered the triangle of Cities in Northern India that I would hopefully be able to visit from our base in Noida (in the National Capital Region of Delhi) - Delhi, Agra & Jaipur. I think people have a favourite type of guide book be it Rough Guide, Lonely Planet or others but my favourite is the Eyewitness range which I had used for many years and had been invaluable not just for holidays but also to my husband when putting together guided coach tours. Therefore, when I saw the Eyewitness Guide I was almost sure I would buy this one which is softback with tough glossy outer covers. I did have a look at a few others but the Eyewitness was definitely the one for me. The guide itself is split into colour-coded sections which are listed on the flap inside the front cover and I will look briefly at each of these ""**Introduction**"" This is very comprehensive and includes a map showing where the cities fit in India and, in fact, where India fits on a map of Asia together with good information on landscape, ...

Premier Travel Inn Oldham - Central, Oldham 28/03/2008

Premier Inn - Oldham Central

Premier Travel Inn Oldham - Central, Oldham My husband had to go to Manchester for a meeting at fairly short notice and would be staying over the night before. As I'm not working at the moment, I decided to tag along - any excuse to go shopping in Manchester for a few hours. Unfortunately, it being the 4th March, Manchester United were playing at home in the Champions League and, despite the best efforts of his company travel people, the nearest they could get at a price they were willing to pay - £58 room and £7.50 breakfast - was the Oldham Central Premier Inn (about 12 miles from the Gmex where we were planning to park). Now this hotel is literally right next to Oldham football ground and they were playing at home but we had absolutely no problem getting a room! We actually hadn't realised that the game was on, otherwise we would have pushed it a bit on the way up and got there in time to go and see the match. There were lots of cars parked in the surrounding streets and we thought we might have a problem getting into the Car Park but, because of the football, there was someone at the entrance checking that anyone coming in was actually staying at the hotel or eating in the Brewers Fayre next door. Check-in was easy. Even though the room was originally booked for one person, you don't pay extra as the room rate is standard whether you have one person or more. The receptionist quickly amended the booking and I paid for an extra breakfast (£7.50). There was a sign on reception advising that the attached ...

Alberto 3 Minute Miracle 11/02/2008

Miracles Do Happen, even on burnt hair

Alberto 3 Minute Miracle **Background** Yes, that's right I decided to set one side of my hair on fire on Saturday afternoon (I always knew smoking was bad for me!). To be honest, between my husband and myself we just dealt with it when it happened and killed the flames, but afterwards I couldn't believe how quickly my hair had caught fire with absolutely no product (hairspray, wax, gel etc) on it. Having combed through and got rid of quite a bit of burnt bits of hair, it became apparent that the damage was mainly superficial, luckily I have very thick hair and only the very top hairs seem to have caught but I was left with some quite singed areas! **The Question - How to repair my crispy hair?** I don't use conditioner often as my hair is straight, shiny and tame, or it was! I knew I needed to sort this problem out as quickly as possible and remembered having a free sample of 3 minute miracle before. It worked well then after daily swimming, so I decided to give it a go! **The Miracle Sachet** I didn't want to get a bottle as I knew it would probably just sit in the bathroom cabinet for months so I was glad to have the option to buy a 20ml sachet from Boots for 99p. The packet suggests the miracle ingredient is Australian Balm Mint but I didn't care as long as my burnt hair got quenched and, hopefully, looked ok. The directions are to put some on clean wet hair so off I went, washed and added a splodge as directed. I left it on for approx 3 minutes (directions say 1-3 ...

Discovery Mexican Wicked Chilli 06/02/2008

Inconsistent Wickedness

Discovery Mexican Wicked Chilli I normally use any old chilli sauce but I came across this when leafing through some recipes in a magazine and decided to give it a try as I particularly liked the idea of the spice mix being included and, liking very spicy Mexican food, the name caught my attention. BACKGROUND Discovery Foods were founded by a father and son in 1989 and are based in Milton Keynes. They originally sold just 3 of their original-recipe sauces and imported Tortillas from California. Today they have expanded to employ around 350 people and not only produce sauces but also seasonings, accompaniments such as Jalapeno peppers and tortillas, taco shells and tortilla chips. Interestingly, whilst they used to produce gluten free tortillas, they stopped production of these mid-2007, following a business review. Their Taco Shells and Tortilla chips are both gluten free, as are most of their other products. They now also have Caribbean, Latin American and Deep South ranges to complement their extensive Mexican range. THE KIT This consists of:- 360g jar of sauce - looks quite chunky. 40% is tomato puree from concentrate but it also has 20% tomatoes and 12% red kidney beans, together with onions, pinto beans, jalapeno peppers and herbs and spices. 10g plastic "pot" of spice mix (chilli powder, salt, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, black pepper and natural colour which comes by way of paprika extract) The spice mix is attached to top of the jar and the plastic top can be a bit ...

Hilton, Maidstone 10/01/2008

Hilton, Maidstone - A Good Option

Hilton, Maidstone Reasons for choosing this hotel: We've stayed here before and the position is good for us when visiting friends and family, being just off the M20 Motorway at Junction 7, approximately 4 miles from Maidstone town centre. I could have used a cheaper hotel (there is an Innkeepers Lodge and a few Premier Travel Inns locally) but as a member of the Hilton loyalty scheme which allows you to "double dip" and not only earn Hilton points, but also points for your chosen Airline rewards programme at the same time, it is a good option for me, so I checked online on Boxing Day for a 1 night stay on 27th December. Booking: The Hilton website, whilst not the most exciting in the world, is easy to navigate - if you know which hotel you want to stay at , you can use the option on the left hand side of the home page or, if not, the locate a hotel button allows you to search by country, region, city and specify other facilities such as meeting room, pool etc that you wish the hotel to have. I requested a Double smoking room which was not available but there was a King guest room available at a cost of £83.50 including breakfast - so far so good. Arrival: You can check in from 3pm but we didn't arriving until approximately 10pm and, despite the car park being busy, there were still spaces to be had. The building itself is modern and you enter from the Car Park at the same level into a large lobby area with comfy sofas and a small café. The reception desk is on your right ...

Holiday Inn Express Liverpool-Knowsley, Liverpool 10/01/2008

Cheap and Cheerful

Holiday Inn Express Liverpool-Knowsley, Liverpool When staying overnight in this part of the world, I normally use the Premier Travel Inn at Aintree but they wanted £79 midweek excluding breakfast so I decided to investigate other options. Having passed the HI Express numerous times on my way to/from Liverpool, I had a look at their website was pleasantly surprised to find the room price was only £55 including breakfast. The hotel has 80+ rooms over 4 floors and has a lift. I chose a smoking room and the only one available was a family room with double bed and double sofa bed for the same price. The room itself had tea/coffee making facilities, hairdryer, tv, internet access (wired), extra pillows and enough hanging/storage space for a few days stay. The bathroom was very clean and a good size with a walk-in shower. I think most of the rooms have showers so, if you're a bath person, it might be worth checking on booking. The continental breakfast is served in the bar area and there is plenty of it including fruit, cereals, yoghurt, bread, croissants, tea, coffee and juice. There is also a complimentary newspaper available in the mornings. There is a bar but no restaurant in the hotel. There are, however, a whole host of takeaway menus available in reception and these all deliver to the hotel. There are also vending machines for soft drinks and snacks in reception and the Suites Hotel next door has a restaurant. Position is good if you're driving - at Junction 4 of the M57, it is aproximately 8 miles from ...

Aurora, Tivoli 09/01/2008


Aurora, Tivoli Reasons for choosing this hotel: We chose this hotel for the first couple of nights of a two week self-drive tour in July 07 based on it's proximity to Rome and the fact that the area is rich in history - fabulous Villas built as it was one of the most popular destinations of Roman emperors due to the sulphur springs and spa waters which are still thought to be of the highest quality. Directions: Tivoli is to the North East of Rome and is easily accessible from both Rome Fiumicino and Ciampino airports. Join the Rome Ring Road and exit at Junction 13 (head towards Tivoli), the hotel is approximately 10km from this junction. The hotel is also easily reached from the centre of Rome by public transport - the railway station Bagni di Tivoli is 1km away and the bus-stop on the main Rome-Tivoli line is 300m from the hotel. Hotel Details: The hotel itself is on a quiet residential street which runs parallel to the main road and has secure parking in a little courtyard for a few cars. The building is fairly new and you can also park outside the hotel to check-in - there are steps and a ramp at the front of the hotel which lead to reception which is very neat and clean, with a small manned reception desk and a lovely old juke box. The lift is also here and just off the reception area is a TV room with a bar. Check in is 2pm and check out 11am. We had booked a double room (including breakfast) at 80 Euros per night. Our room was very well decorated with a modern new ...

Hotel La Pace - Rome/Naples, Cassino 09/01/2008

Hotel La Pace - peace in an area famous for war

Hotel La Pace - Rome/Naples, Cassino We weren't sure what to expect when we rolled up at this 3 star hotel for 3 nights in July 07 at the end of a two week self-drive tour. At 75 Euros per night bed and breakfast, this was an average price. However, the standard of accommodation at this price varies so much in Italy and we had already seen the good and the not so good. First impressions were good as he hotel is situated in a quiet, mainly residential area and you could park outside to check-in. The best way to describe the reception area is higgledy-piggledy, with it's cabinets of war memorabilia and plenty of chairs/tables to enjoy a coffee which is available all day - this area is non-smoking. At the side of the reception desk there is a PC with free internet access. Apart from the reception staff, not much English is spoken but our few words of Italian were enough to get by. Checkout is 11am but this can be extended and there is a luggage storage room. The included breakfast - served in the bar area behind reception between 6.30 and 10.00 am - was nothing to write home about but was adequate with pastries, yoghurt, juice and coffee. On two of the days there was also cheese and meats so perhaps we were just too late on the first morning! There is restaurant in the hotel which is open for lunch and dinner and a pizzeria open in the evening The rooms are reached via a large staircase or a typically small lift. The corridors are marble and the rooms themselves are clean but typically old-fashioned ...

Esperidi Resort, Sant'Agnello 28/09/2007

Esperidi - better than I hoped

Esperidi Resort, Sant'Agnello To be honest, I was quite worried - what I saw on the resort website was not what I was reading on some internet sites. However, all fears were unfounded when we checked in and found our Chalet Double with Garden view. The main room was large with a small kitchenette in one corner - two rings, a sink and a fridge. All crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils provided. The room itself had a large bed, built in wardrobe, glass table top shelf, flat screen tv and full length mirror. The bathroom was very big with a large walk in shower (probably big enough for 4 although I never tested this out!). The finish was very "boutique" - modern and high standard. There was also a small courtyard - the "open" ends were finished with hedging so it was very secluded when you were sitting at the table which also had a very large parasol to afford some shade. It does appear that not all the rooms have yet been upgraded and some looked very small so it is definitely worth checking what you're getting when you book. The gardens are very well maintained and there are lots of fruit trees (oranges, lemons and limes) and there is also a play area. The staff are very helpful and the rooms are cleaned daily to a v. good standard. The Pool is set behind the bar and despite warnings to the contrary, we didn't have to wear swim hats and people weren't told off for talking around the pool although they do request that you keep quiet between 2 and 4 - siesta time. It is open until 6 pm and on ...

Hotpoint WD640G 23/09/2007

Super Silent - it certainly is!

Hotpoint WD640G To be honest, although I'd tried other products, nothing compared to my 1st Hotpoint washer dryer. With this in mind, I decided to have a look at what was available in the current range. I could have got this model cheaper from online stores including Boots (yes really) but I decided to visit a local shop with personal service and the option of a Saturday delivery. I questioned paying £50 extra for the machine advertised as Super Silent but I'm glad I did. I live in a flat where my machine is in a cupboard as are the ones above me and as my previous machine was very noisy, I thought it only fair. I keep thinking it has stopped working, it's so quiet! The WD640P has 11 washing options including a Handwash cycle for delicates at 25 degrees (which I've used and thought was excellent) and a Gold Woolmark Approved Cycle for handwash wool. It is a cold fill only machine which saves on water heating costs and you can also reduce the temperature on each wash - ideal if you have signed up to the "Turn to 30 campaign" to lessen environmental impacts as I have. Other options include Crease Reduction and Time Saving on some washes and these options are shown on a digital display. The model allows a wash load of 6KG for cottons - ideal for towels and this is only reduced to 5 KG if you want to wash and dry on the same cycle. Whilst Hotpoint recommend Ariel for the best washing results, I use Daz and have no complaints about the quality of the wash. I've had the ...

Albena, Bulgaria 05/02/2007

A week in Albena

Albena, Bulgaria Because of various work commitments we had very limited search criteria to get a week away during September 06. However, a direct flight from Bristol to Varna swayed the decision and we chose the Hotel Druzba in the resort of Albena - partly on price but also location - right in the heart of the main street. Albena, like other coastal resorts in Bulgaria is not exactly what you'd call pretty. Some of the hotels are in fact, pretty ugly but this is made up for by the gorgeous beach. In addition, our hotel didn't have a pool but arrangements are there to use a pool just down the way at a minimum price (less than £1 each). There are plenty of bars and restaurants along the main road and also along the beachside which serve large portions for a small amount of money. Add to this the fact that beer is approximately £1 per pint and you can get a reasonable glass of wine for a couple of quid, then you're laughing if you're on a budget. Breakfast (taken in the hotel next door) was plentiful with hot and cold buffet including English, Continental, Fruit etc. There are lots of stalls along the road selling various handicrafts and doing a roaring trade with people getting dressed up in costumes from yesteryear and having their photographs taken. There are also many little shops/kiosks selling water, soft drinks, snacks, fruit and alcohol. Because it was nearly the end of the season, the shops were all having sales and it was possible to pick up a few bargains - Albena ...
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